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1.1. Background of the Study

 In Nigeria, vegetable crops are produced in different agro-ecological zones through commercial as well as small scale farmers both as a source of income as well as food. However, the type is limited to few crops and production is concentrated to some pocket areas. In spite of this, the production of vegetables varies from cultivating a few plants in the backyards for home consumption up to a large-scale production for domestic and export markets (Dawitet. al., 2004). Recently, despite the ups and downs observed, the demand for vegetables especially for export is increasing (Tsegay, 2010). In fact, vegetables can generate high income for the farmers because of high market value and profitability. They also have high nutritive value compared to cereals (EARO, 2000) Vegetables are an important feature of Nigerian’s diet that a traditional meal without it is assumed to be incomplete. In developing countries, the consumption of vegetables is generally lower than the FAO recommendation of 75kg per year in habitant (206g per day per capita) (Badmus and Yekini, 2011). In Nigeria, vegetable production has been on-going for decades, providing employment and income for the increasing population especially during the long dry season. However production is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, agronomic and socio-economic variables (Sabo and Zira, 2008). It has been widely demonstrated that rural women, as well as men, throughout the world are engaged in a range of productive activities essential to household welfare, agricultural productivity, and economic growth. Vegetable crops are grown in many parts of the world contributing significantly to income security and the nutritive diet of many households. According to (Mofekeet al.2003) Vegetable crops constitute 30 to 50 percent of iron and vitamin A in resource poor diet. Vegetable crops such as tomatoes, okra, pepper, cabbage etc. are widely cultivated in most part of the Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly by small scale farmers in most states of Nigeria (Adeolu and Taiwo 2009; Giroh et al., 2010). Global production of fruits and vegetables tripled from 396 million MT in 1961 to 1.34 billion MT in 2003(International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, 2005) and Nigeria ranked 16th on the global tomato production scale, accounting for 10.79 percent of Africa’s and 1.2 percent of total world production of tomatoes (Weinberger and Lumpkin, 2007) Protective cultivation has been widely applied due to adverse climatic conditions unfavourable to warm season vegetable production. In many parts of the world, nets or screens are commonly used in crop production for reducing excessive solar radiation, weather effects on produce, and to keep away insects and birds. Vegetable production under protective structures such as netting reduces yield losses from insects, diseases, heavy rains and sunburn which results in higher productivity and returns per unit area (Ramasamy,2011). Protective structures provide protection to vegetable crops against biotic and abiotic stresses (Palada, 2011). Mangmang in 2002, reported that the total fruit yield and high returns of tomato crop was significantly enhanced by the plastic net covers. The net shade greatly reduced insect population by 80% and marketable yields were 1.5 to 2 times greater under than in the open field (Palada and Ali, 2007). Growing cabbage under nets reduced insect incidence by 38-72 percent and resulted in significantly higher returns (Neaveet al, 2011). Green house, the latest word in agriculture is one of such means, where the plants are grown under controlled or partially controlled environment resulting in higher yields than those that are under open conditions (Navale et al. 2003). Net houses and its variants have been used in some European, South American and Southeast Asian countries for producing egg plants (Kaur et al., 2004), leafy greens (Talekar et al., 2003) and cabbage (Martin et al., 2006). In Africa, mobile net houses made of mosquito nets (25- mesh) were effective as physical barrier against the diamondback moths, cut-worms and loopers providing 66- 97 percent control of moths, birds and caterpillars (Martin et al., 2006). Netting is frequently used to protect agricultural crops from excessive solar radiation (shade-nets), improving the thermal climate (Kittas et al., 2009), sheltering from wind and hail and exclusion of bird and insect-transmitted virus diseases (Teitelet al., 2008). The shading of crops results in number of changes on both local microclimate and consequently crop growth and development (Kittaset al., 2009). (Takteet al. 2003) reported that shade nets were used for protection of valuable crops against excess sunlight, cold, frost, wind and insect/birds. They experimented on the effects of shading on crop growth and development, it was found that shading increased leaf area index and total marketable yield production, reduced the appearance of tomato cracking about 50% and accordingly, the marketable tomato production was about 50% higher under shading conditions than under non-shading conditions. (Smith et al. 1984) observed that under shading nets the air temperature was lower than that of the ambient air, depending on the shading intensity. Shade netting not only decreases light quantity but also alters light quality to a varying extent and might also change other environmental conditions. The shade netting determines the commercial value of crop, including yield, product quality, and rate of maturation (Shahaket al., 2004). Poor head formation, leaf twisting, early bolting, and reduced yields occurred when leafy vegetables were grown under hot, high-sunlight conditions without shade net (Sajjapongse and Roan, 1983). Water stress caused by high evapo-transpirative demand, and high air and soil temperatures, appear to be the main causes of poor crop productivity of leafy crops in low-latitude regions (Wolff and Coltman, 1990). In Nigeria, small scale irrigation systems have gone a long way to support dry season farming of crops all over the country. Irrigation farming is relatively low in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, with irrigated area estimated at only 6 percent of total cultivated area, compared with 37 percent of Asia and 14 percent for Latin America (FAOSTAT 2009). Svendsen and Sangi (2009) observed that more than two-third of existing irrigated area is concentrated in five countries namely Egypt, Madagascar, Morocco, South Africa, and Sudan. Giving that irrigated crops yields are more than double of rain fed yields in Africa (Liangzhiet al., 2010), it is important to invest on irrigation developments with particular focus on locations and technologies with greatest potential for irrigation. The effort of the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the support of World Bank and the African Development Fund to develop irrigation systems in the country started with the approval of the implementation of the National FADAMA Development Project (2008- 2016). Dry season production of vegetables is common along the river banks that cut across villages, towns, and cities in Nigeria. Therefore in Yewa North Local Government where the research will be carried out, one of the major activities to be conducted will be to determine the profitability of vegetable production as well as the factors militating against vegetable production among others. 

1.2 Statement of the Problem 

Nigeria as a country is unable to meet its domestic requirements for vegetables, fruits, floriculture, herbs and spices, dried nuts and pulses. Between 2009 and 2010, Nigeria imported a total of 105,000 metric tonnes of tomato paste valued at over 16 billion naira to bridge the deficit gap between supply and demand in the country (Food and Agricultural Organization, 2006).   Kalu in 2013, attributed this situation to socio-economic constraint surrounding the key actors in the tomato value chain, institutional weaknesses and declining agricultural research. Vegetables are also highly perishable as they start to lose their quality right after harvest and continued throughout the process until it is consumed (Kohl and Uhl, 1985). Hence, vegetable productions are risky investment activities. Riskiness of vegetable production may be attributed to several factors that are beyond the control of producers. Biological processes of plant growth and climatic conditions inherent in agricultural production cause random production shocks (Goodwin and Mishra, 2000; Holt and Chavas, 2002) such as harvest failure as a result of drought, frost, floods and other adverse climatic events; policy shocks (Dercon, 2002). Due to perishable nature and biological nature of production process there is a difficulty of scheduling the supply of vegetables to market demand. The crops are subjected to high price and quantity risks with changing consumer demands and production conditions. Unusual production or harvesting weather or a major crop disease can influence badly the marketing system. While food-marketing system demands stable price and supply, a number of marketing arrangements like contract farming provide stability (Kohl and Uhl, 1985). Hence, knowledge of small-scale crop producers perception towards risk is important in designing strategies and formulating policies for agricultural development (Ayindeet al., 2008). On the other hand, lack of market infrastructure is one of the limiting factors causing low returns in vegetable cultivation. Profitability is not only determined by the use of input resources but it is also dependent on the availability of proper logistic for transporting the farm produce from farm gate to the market. Vegetable production is also influenced by the location of the farms due to the fact that the farms near to input market are in a better position to purchase different inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, etc. at the appropriate time. In Yewa North Local Government, some of the major problems faced by vegetable farmers include the following; lack of capital, lack of storage facilities, climatic conditions, pest and diseases. Another problem that I perceive farmers are facing in the study area and in Nigeria as a whole is, the lack of standard measure for vegetables/pricing. The questions of interest in this study are: ·        What are the socio-economic characteristics of the vegetable farmers in the study area? ·        What is the level of profit generated from vegetable production in the study area? ·        What are the determinants of income generated from vegetable production in the study area? ·        What are the constraints militating against vegetable production in the study area? 

1.3 Objective of the Study 

The broad objective of the study is to determine the profitability of vegetable production among the rural household farmers. The specific objectives are to:1. Describe the socio-economic characteristics of the vegetable farmers in the study area; ·        2. Examine the level of profit generated from vegetable production in the study area; ·        3.   Analyse the determinants of income generated from vegetable production in the study area; and 4.   Describe the constraints militating against vegetable production in the study area. 

1.4 Justification of the Study 

The agricultural sector is one of the main stay for many households in Nigeria. On its diversity, the Nigerian agriculture features tree and food crops, forestry, livestock and fishery. In 1993 and 1984, constant factor cost, crops (the major source of food) accounted for about 30 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), livestock about 5 percent, forestry and wildlife about 1.3 percent and fisheries are accounted for same as vegetables and fruit. Therefore, the study is aimed at the following: 1) To the stakeholders, especially the policy makers to make the well managed decisions about the formulation of future strategies for the development of the livelihood of vegetable growers. 2) To the public, to know the profitability level of vegetable production and also the cost of production in other to live standard. 

1.5 Plan of the Study 

This research was divided into five chapters, chapter one consists of introduction, research problem, objective and justification. While chapter two consists of literature review and conceptual framework, chapter three consists of research methodology, sampling techniques, method of data collection and method of data analysis. On the other hand, chapter four consists of result and discussion and chapter five was summary, conclusion and recommendation.

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